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Report: Regulators Knew Glyphosate Caused Birth Defects

Don Huber, an emeritus professor at Purdue University and retired U.S. Army Colonel, was virtually ignored after writing a letter in January to Tom Vilsack, head of the USDA, about the environmental and animal health dangers associated with the use of glyphosate and requesting a moratorium on deregulating crops genetically altered to be immune to Roundup.

Dr. Huber was sent a polite letter in response, and, less than three weeks later, the Obama administration approved 2 new Roundup Ready® GMO crops,  intended to be planted this past spring (though a U.S. Supreme Court ruling should, ideally, be holding up that process).

In his letter, Huber commented on the herbicide itself, saying, “It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders.”

Now we’re learning that regulators have known as early as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals. A report released yesterday by international researchers at Earth Open Source, titled “Round-up and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?”, says that regulators misled the public about glyphosate’s safety and as recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety- the German government body dealing with the glyphosate review- told the European Commission that there was no evidence glyphosate causes birth defects.

Although glyphosate was originally due to be reviewed in 2012, the Commission decided late last year not to bring the review forward, instead delaying it until 2015. The chemical will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030.

“Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable,” write the report authors in their conclusion. “What is more, we have learned from experts familiar with pesticide assessments and approvals that the case of glyphosate is not unusual.”

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